Small businesses in Australia make up most of the business economy and the internet provides many opportunities for such businesses, however it also presents many threats. Most small businesses are already connected to the internet in some form whether it be through their website, taking payments, receiving orders or through social media. Although this is efficient and effective for business, it can leave you and your business exposed to many online security issues too.
Don’t lose customers
Unfortunately for small businesses in Australia, many have experienced some sort of security issues at one point or another. Some of these issues include bugs in hardware or software that affect how a computer should function; bugs can be found in the customer data and business data, and websites may become unavailable due to hackers ‘breaking in’ resulting in your website going offline. All of these issues can affect your business, stifle productivity and lose customers.
So what can you do to make sure your business remains protected? Below are some ideas to help you get started:
- Regularly update software
Even though you might already have antivirus software and firewalls, computer hackers can still overpower them. At a minimum check that you have the following in place:
- Antivirus software is up to date, if not renew your subscription
- Firewalls are activated on your computer
- Update key programs as they require it (eg. Adobe, Java, etc.)
- Information security
The client or customer information you obtain from the internet is valuable to hackers and can ruin your business reputation and leave you liable if it gets into the wrong hands. Protect your customer information and reduce further damage in the event on an attack by:
- Only taking the minimum amount of customer information required
- If you use devices such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops for your business; ensure that all devices are password protected and encrypted
- Look to store information in a secure cloud-based environment as opposed to on USB’s, CD’s or thumb drives
- Minimise spam
Spam introduces a variety of threats that can harm your computer. You might have received emails from time to time that you don’t recognise, if so, those emails could be spam with links to malicious websites that can harm your computer. It is important to be vigilant with emails that look suspicious and NOT to open the links. Delete them from your inbox and deleted items folder promptly. You can protect your business from spam with a few simple steps:
- Instead of putting your actual email address on your website, use a web contact form. This way, customers can still send you a message and your email address will be protected.
- If you haven’t done so already, install security software such as antivirus software, firewalls and anti-spyware. Overall this is the most important step you can take to protect your online security.
The government initiative ‘Stay Smart Online’ has some good information on how to protect your computer from spam.
- Know when your domain name expires
Extortion is another way for cyber criminals to affect your business. If they get to your expired domain name before you remember to renew it, they could hold it for ransom and ask for any amount of money from you to give it back. To prevent this, make a diary note and stay on top of your renewals!
- Consider seeking the service of an online security consultant
Seeking out the services of online security experts to assist with the protection of your business is a step towards prevention. There are many Internet Technology providers in the market with expertise in online security.
As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Staying up-to-date, putting steps in place and remaining vigilant about your online protection will minimise your risk and hopefully prevent cyber-attacks on your business.
More information about online security for your business can be found here:
- Six ways to protect your business online
- Protect your small business customers online
- Government initiative – stay smart online
- Computer security threats faced by small businesses in Australia